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Summary:

Amazon’s GovCloud targets U.S. state, federal and local government workloads. Here’s betting AWS will replicate that model abroad.

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photo: Getty Images

Amazon Web Services is king of cloud right now but as more big vendors — GoogleIBM, VMware, Microsoft, Rackspace– offer massive cloud infrastructure for rent — AWS will look to new opportunities. No kidding, right?

map of europeHere’s one I think the company will pursue, if it’s not doing it already. In the U.S., Amazon’s GovCloud is a separate region that complies with regulations above and beyond what other regions do so that federal, state and government agencies can use it. Given data privacy concerns in Europe and some other regions, it would be fruitful for Amazon to think about setting up analogous secure clouds outside the U.S.

Currently, the AWS Europe region runs out of Dublin, but if the German or Swiss or French governments (or businesses in those countries) face legal restrictions or even just prefer to deploy locally, Amazon could set up servers inside secure co-location facilities to  offer secure GovCloud-like services for a premium price.

Does an Amazon Mini-Me makes sense?

Unconfirmed reports — which I believe to be true — that AWS is building what amounts to a private cloud version of its service for the CIA are relevant here. If it is doing that, the company is open to different deployment models. There’s nothing to keep it from dropping a containerized mini-AWS into a secure data center for a customer willing to pay the freight which includes real-estate, power and physical security costs. Some in the industry say AWS is already deploying “mini regions” like this on the down-low for select customers.

Right now, I should note that AWS had no comment on this story which is, after all largely speculation. But others who know data center technology and customer requirements agree this game plan makes sense. “There are lots of government workloads out there that require special handling — to protect citizen information etc. There’s a market for this,” said Dave Ohara, GigaOM Pro analyst and founder of Greenm3.

Shlomo Swidler, president of cloud consultancy Orchestratus, agreed. “Data protection laws are not the only data regulations that government entities need to follow,” Swidler said via email. “Local regulations covering governments themselves vary by country so building in-country clouds, AWS would need to add additional capabilities to attract those .gov workloads.”

On the flip side, as Swidler notes, AWS is extremely market driven and would target countries with the largest public sectors.

Swidler took public GDP numbers and correlated them to available figures for the size of the public sector as a percentage of a GDP and found that Germany , France, the U.K. and Italy would be the most attractive markets — although he acknowledged that the most recent numbers available were from 2007 — which means they don’t factor in the recent economic crisis.

Anyway, AWS ain’t talking so we are free to speculate — and to ask Amazon CTO Werner Vogels about this at GigaOM’s Structure in two weeks. In the meantime, what do you think? Use comments to say whether you think mini GovClouds make sense.

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  1. Sharon Wagner Thursday, June 6, 2013

    Completely agree – this move just make sense.

    In addition to regulation, AWS must establish presence in “remote” Non-US territories, in order to gain more business.

    Global presence is probably one of the top priority goals for AWS. I would imagine that AWS sees local telecoms as threat and taking the necessary steps. Howeve, AWS is not alone, for example: Joyent partner with Telefonica to provide services in LATAM and spain.

    I was predicting “localized cloud services” and this move few month ago in my 2013 predictions: https://blog.cloudyn.com/unclouded-predictions-for-2013/

    1. I firmly believe “the more cloud providers, the better” – and I can see Amazon definitely going for this. It’s also a matter of public knowledge that one of the intentions of G-Cloud IV in the UK, is to get AWS on board as a provider.

      This also makes life interesting, for Eucalyptus and providers looking to use it, of course. While the famous “if it runs Netflix Asgard, it’s done” claim clearly isn’t the whole of the story, how feasible would it be for other local providers to stand up Eucalyptus-based infrastructures and go into head-to-head competition with an “AWS mini-me” for services to their Govt, adding “we’re not American, so we aren’t subject to PATRIOT and don’t have to worry about FISAA and other potential security-compromising US legislation”?

      1. hey @dave..good point vis a vis competing w/ aws mini-mes especiallygiven the fresth outrage over US govt snooping on US cloud vendors — although interestingly, AWS was not named… which is a head scratcher.

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